Friday, September 23, 2011

LA - Joe Somar - Harassing an offender using registry info, a crime!

Joe Somar
Recently, a friend was checking out sex offender related videos on YouTube, as we do all the time, when they came across a video from the SOMARSOMAR YouTube channel (Now deleted).

It was a video of the person outside a sex offenders home, screaming and yelling for the man to come outside (Now Deleted). See our video below. Tell us, do you think the voice in our video, which is from his original deleted video, and the voice in his new video below match?

The description on the video was "[name withheld] is a sex offender. I'm going to bother him until he fights me or I get bored."

My friend then left a comment on the video telling them that harassing an offender by using information on the registry (see below) was a crime.

That is all that was posted on the video, no threats were made.

He also had a link to his site on the YouTube channel, which is how we found the other info about him.

As soon as the comment was made by my friend, the person deleted the video and the entire channel.

Now, another channel just popped up, the date on the channel shows 09/23/2011, but we believe it was created today, with the persons machine having the wrong date, but we could be wrong. Doesn't matter anyway.

We did not say we were going to press charges against him, like he claims in his new video (which we've also downloaded).

We simply emailed the LA sheriff's office (SOCPR@dps.state.la.us) asking about using the registry to harass someone.  Someone we know contacted the person he was harassing, and they are aware of Mr. Somar. Him and his wife were frightened about the incident, and are talking with a lawyer.

Anyway, this is all we will say about this. We posted it, not to harass anybody, but to show how people use the registry to harass those on the registry, and to show why the registry should be taken offline and used by police only!

You can check out Google for Mr. Joe Somar, yourself.

Louisiana Registry Warning: (Link)
Any person who uses information contained in or accessed through this Website to threaten, intimidate, or harass any individual, including registrants or family members, or who otherwise misuses this information, may be subject to criminal prosecution or civil liability.

It would seem that Mr. Somar, who claims it's not him in the video, complained to YouTube and they removed our video. You know, if it's not him, why go through so much trouble? Well, here it is again.

video


NEW SITE - Women Against Registry

Click the image to visit the site


No Safety in Numbers

COSA
Original Article

09/15/2011

By Steven Yoder

It’s a Monday evening in February, and four people sit around a conference table at a United Church of Christ in Fresno, California. The fluorescent lighting makes the room feel cold. But the people here have a warm demeanor and a seriousness of purpose. They’re part of a group called Circle of Support and Accountability (COSA), and they help manage recently released sex offenders.

The focus of the group’s work is “Jim,” a convicted offender in his 40s who’s near the end of his parole. Each member says a few words about how their week has been. Jim’s hasn’t gone so well—he’s felt lonely. He has a temp job and a 7 p.m. curfew, so after work every day, he goes home, eats dinner, and goes to bed. Even his brother doesn’t always want to talk to him. Warning flags go up for Clare Ann Ruth-Heffelbower, the program’s 63-year-old director, as Jim talks about how cut off he feels. “Do you think you’re going to do things that you know you shouldn’t do?” she asks.

He admits that he’s thought about drinking again. “Wasn’t that something that was a big part of your life before?” asks Heidi, a seminary student with a pierced tongue and multiple earrings. “You can’t blame what you did on your drinking problem, but as we’ve talked about, it’s something that you have to pay attention to.”

I know,” he says.

If you’re needing to meet people, find something to occupy your time, you could go to Alcoholics Anonymous,” suggests Ruth- Heffelbower. “You can make some new friends, maybe even meet a female friend that you like,” she says.

Well, OK, that’s a good idea,” he says softly. “I’ll go.”

When they reconvene the following Monday, Jim admits he hasn’t made it to AA. This time Ruth-Heffelbower brought a meeting schedule, though, and Jim says he’ll go on Saturday. Another COSA volunteer suggests someone who could give him a ride.

This strategy runs counter to the prevailing approach to managing those convicted of sex crimes. In every state, once offenders are released from prison they are required to register their names, addresses, and photos. Putting such information in the public domain, the theory goes, will make them less likely to commit another sex crime because they know they’re being watched. But in practice, it hasn’t been that simple.

Registries began as a sound idea that grew from a terrible crime. On an October night in 1989, a masked gunman abducted Jacob Wetterling, an 11-year-old Minnesota boy. He was never found. Over the next five years, Jacob’s parents successfully pushed for legislation requiring sex-offender registries that would be accessible to the police, though not the public. President Clinton signed the Jacob Wetterling Act in September 1994. It gave police a critical tool that they could use to quickly check suspects early in a sex crime case.

On July 29, 1994, as the Wetterling Act was making its way through Congress, a 7-year-old in New Jersey named Megan Kanka was raped and strangled by a neighbor with a history of sex offenses. Kanka’s parents lobbied for Megan’s Law, which Clinton signed in May 1996, expanding the Wetterling Act to require states to open up their sex-offender registries to the public. “In some ways,” says Jacob Wetterling’s mother, Patty, “Megan’s Law hijacked our intentions.”

The impact of putting offenders’ identities into the hands of a fearful public was predictable. In a 2005 study, 47 percent of 121 sex offenders interviewed said they’d been harassed as a result of being on a registry, and 16 percent said that they’d been assaulted. Since 2005, at least five sex offenders have been murdered by people who used a registry to track them. A 2007 Human Rights Watch study (Video) found that private employers were reluctant to hire sex offenders, and a 2008 U.S. Department of Justice report concluded that cases of offenders being forced into homelessness were “widely reported.”

While registries have been very effective at marginalizing convicted offenders, a December 2008 study (Video) on the impact of Megan’s Law in New Jersey found that the law “has no effect on reducing the number of victims involved in sexual offenses.” Studies in other states came to similar conclusions. In 2009, analysts at the Washington State Institute for Public Policy looked at seven studies on recidivism by registered offenders. Only two showed that being on a registry decreased the chances that an offender would commit another sex crime.

The public, however, remains convinced that registries work. In a national poll of 1,005 people early last year, 79 percent said they thought registration is an effective deterrent. And offender registries are making inroads in other areas of crime policy. Since 2005, at least 13 states have launched websites listing those convicted of a range of offenses, from manufacturing meth to drunk driving.

By these standards, COSA’s approach seems crazy. But the model is almost as old as sex-offender registries themselves. In the summer of 1994, a psychologist at the Correctional Service of Canada named Bill Palmer was desperate to prevent a high-risk child molester named [name withheld] from victimizing another child. While sex offenders’ risk of committing another crime varies considerably, reoffense rates for untreated offenders who target children can run as high as 40 percent. So Palmer connected [name withheld] with a local Mennonite minister, Harry Nigh, who agreed to have several members of his congregation help keep an eye on [name withheld].

That group, which called itself “Charlie’s Angels,” was the first COSA, a model that has since been adopted in 16 sites in Canada and has spread to four U.S. states and Great Britain. The service matches each offender with four to six volunteers, who provide emotional support and lend a hand on practical details, from job applications to transportation. Volunteers are trained to monitor the offender’s behavior for signs of relapse. “We’re not there to hold the hand of a sex offender because he’s a poor sad guy who everybody despises,” says Andrew McWhinnie, national adviser to the Correctional Service on the COSA program. “Yes, we’re there for that, too, because he’s a human being and no one is disposable. But the reason is that we don’t want to see any more sexual victims.”

[name withheld] died in 2005 having never committed another sex crime. The first study of the program, published in 2005 by the Correctional Service of Canada, found that offenders who had been through COSA were 70 percent less likely than those who hadn’t to return to prison because of a sex offense. A second study conducted in 2007 and a third, published in the journal Sex Abuse in 2009, both found an 83 percent drop.

Attempts to replicate COSA in the United States are in early stages, but when the Fresno group was evaluated in September 2009, none of the 16 offenders who had been through the program had reoffended, according to Ruth-Heffelbower.

Jim’s experience shows that while support and accountability go together, keeping sex offenders on the right track isn’t easy. He never made it to AA. The week after the COSA meeting, his parole officer searched his hotel room and found pornography, a violation. So he went back to prison for two months.

But Ruth-Heffelbower wrote to him, and Jim replied that he wanted to continue meeting with COSA when he got out. Ruth- Heffelbower sees progress: “When people like him mess up, if they continue working with us when they come out, they’re much more serious and open.”


MA - Swansea official proposes town's first-ever sex offender bylaw

Original Article

09/22/2011

By Deborah Allard

SWANSEA - A new sex offender bylaw will likely be one article voters will decide upon at the upcoming Special Town Meeting to be held in November or early December.

Town Administrator James Kern said a date has not yet been set.

The sex offender bylaw, proposed by School Committee Vice Chairman Christopher R. Carreiro, will be a first for the town.

It’s a simple bylaw that says level 2 or 3 sex offenders cannot live within 500 feet of a school, park or the Town Beach,” Carreiro said.

Carreiro said most people he’s spoken with in town assumed there was already a bylaw in effect. But, cities and towns must enact such bylaws on their own. Massachusetts law does require sex offenders to register their address, which is entered into a database and available as public record.

People were so surprised there wasn’t something in place,” Carreiro said.

There are sex offender bylaws in neighboring towns and cities, including Somerset which enacted its own bylaw in 2008.

Level 2 and 3 sex offenders are given those particular designations by state law to make the community aware of the offenders’ level of dangerousness and likelihood of re-offense. A level 3 offender poses the highest risk of re-offending.

Carreiro said that through his own research, he discovered there are 19 level 2 sex offenders and two level 3 sex offenders living in Swansea.

Carreiro said the new bylaw will aid police and residents in protecting children and others in town.

I think it’s another tool,” Carreiro said. “It’s not the only solution, but it gives police officers the ability to do something about it.”

Locations included in the bylaw are the Swansea School Administration Building, all four elementary schools, Joseph Case Junior High School and Joseph Case High School. Also included is the Swansea Town Beach, Swansea Boat Ramp, Nike Site Playing Complex, Little League baseball fields, basketball hoops, playground and tennis courts, recreational facilities, and the Swansea Public Library.

Carreiro worked with Police Chief George Arruda, Superintendent Christine Stanton, Town Administrator James Kern, Town Planner Steve Antinelli,and School Committee member Eric Graham on drafting the new bylaw.


CA - Kidnap Victim Jaycee Dugard Sues Government

Jaycee Dugard
Original Article

09/22/2011

(NewsCore) - Jaycee Dugard filed a lawsuit against the US government Thursday for what she said was its failure to monitor the paroled sex offender who kidnapped, raped and imprisoned her for 18 years.

The complaint, filed in federal court in San Francisco, says the government's oversight of convicted sex offender Phillip Garrido was so lacking that the "gross neglect borders on virtual complicity."

Garrido, 60, was sentenced to 431 years in prison in April for the rape and kidnapping of Dugard, who was 11-years-old when he grabbed her from a bus stop near her home in South Lake Tahoe, Calif.

His wife, Nancy Garrido (Video), 55, was sentenced to 36 years to life in prison for sexual assault and kidnapping

Garrido Backyard Encampment
Dugard, along with her two daughters fathered by Garrido, were discovered in 2009 living in a shed in the couple's Antioch, Calif. backyard.

Dugard's lawyers said federal authorities "failed on numerous occasions" from December 1988 to March 1999 to properly monitor Garrido, who had been convicted in 1977 of raping and kidnapping a 25-year-old woman.

He was on parole and under federal supervision when he kidnapped Dugard in 1991.

The complaint alleges that Garrido repeatedly violated the conditions of his parole, including testing positive for drug and alcohol use.

Authorities also ignored reports of sexual misconduct and failed to properly check on Garrido, visiting his residence less than a dozen times in ten years, the complaint alleges. For the final three years of his federal parole, from 1996 to 1999, no investigator went to his home at all, the complaint said.

After 1999, California was responsible for monitoring Garrido. Still, it took 10 more years until authorities found Dugard.

Dugard's lawyers said she is not seeking a specific sum for damages, but rather will trust the judge to decide compensation. Any money collected from this complaint would be put toward her foundation, attorney Dale Kinsella said.

Last year, California paid Dugard and her two children $20 million in damages.

US Department of Justice spokesman Charles Miller said government attorneys will review the complaint and "make a determination about how we will ultimately respond in court."

The horrific details of Dugard's captivity were released in testimony to a grand jury. Dugard told the jury her kidnapper forced her to have extended periods of sex with him -- often on camera – with Garrido telling her she was helping with his "sex problem."

Dugard, who was hit with a stun gun when she was kidnapped, told the grand jury,"I was very scared," she said. "I didn't know why he was doing this. I just wanted to go home."

Dugard said Phillip Garrido continued to carry his stun gun the months after her kidnapping.

When asked by the grand jury why she never tried to escape, Dugard said, "Well, in the beginning I was scared. I was afraid of I guess what he would do, Phillip."

Dugard, now 31, said Phillip and Nancy Garrido "stole my life."